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Session 43

Neural Plasticity

Nathan Otto is the author of Give Peace A Deadline.

Neural Plasticity:
1. A man had a motorcycle accident, woke up from a coma 19 years later. His brain
had "re-mapped." The part of the brain normally in charge of sight was damaged,
so the brain moved that function to a different part. This was true for other
important functions as well.

A Mental Model is a machine in thought-space.

1. The physical embodiment of this is a neural-net.
2. A model is a way of thinking about something. It produces an emotional
experience or a concrete result.

Attention is the programmer of our mental computer.

Attention is the general purpose model.

We don't adapt by growing furs and fans, we adapt by growing our neural nets.

Some definitions:
1. Media: all sensory and thought input
2. Structure: persistence and repeated media
3. Neural Plasticity: the ongoing process whereby our brains are remapped

Mental Models are the greatest innovation in the universe.

As soon as one of us models something in a way that works better than the models
everyone else is using, we can communicate that model and benefit others.

Once we know they exist, we get to choose our Mental Models and thus consciously
evolve. Yet Mental Models are systems that resist change.

Intensity is the basis of neural plasticity. Where there is intensity, new neural nets are
being created. Intensity occurs in behaviors that have a quality of unfamiliarity and

There is no empty "real estate" in our brain.

Restraint is the process of restraining whatever neural net you don't want, so you let
them die.
1. In stroke victims who have lost use of one side, they restrain their strong side to
force them to use the weak side and make it stronger.

Our Mental Models work so well we take them for reality.

Most of us have maladaptive neural nets that aren't serving us.

We're born with neural nets that insure our survival and reproduction. This is called
the Human Reproductive Paradigm. It's pre-installed software.
1. It's not about happiness or achievement.

One Neuro Net is the "self"

1. This model weaves disparate neural nets into a consistent narrative.

Mental Models that are closer to the feeling of you are harder to change. They're

Intensity Practice Method:

1. Moment by Moment: uses all free attention. Example: paying attention to breath,
stopping a physical practice like nodding your head unconsciously
2. Opportunistic Practices: what's the trigger you're looking for, what's the behavior
you're restraining, what's your substitute behavior.
3. Structural Practice: symbolic reminders are one example.